ANCYL president Collen Maine is seen at the Nelson Mandela Stadium on 16 April 2016. He was attending the party's election manifesto launch.
CAPE TOWN – The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) on Tuesday defended utterances by its president, Collen Maine, for the uMkontho weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) to take up arms to defend President Jacob Zuma, even after an instruction from its mother body to withdraw the remarks.
In a statement, the ANCYL said Maine’s comments at a “Hands off Zuma” march in Durban on Saturday were taken out of context. Maine was quoted as saying: “Comrades from Umkhonto we Sizwe, bring your guns. Now is the time to defend the revolution.”
“Section 16 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa affords every person a right to freedom of expression, which right includes the right to impart information and ideas, provided that this right does not extend to inciting imminent violence,” said league spokesman Mlondi Mkhize.
“For one to be accused of inciting violence – 'violence must be intended, likely and imminent’.”
Mkhize said the statement by Maine was not directed at a specific person or persons.
“The president of the ANCYL did not call for any members of the MK veterans to shoot at any person. Therefore, it cannot be said that he was inciting violence,” he said.
“In any event, he is incapable of doing so given that he is not the president of the MK veterans. As a result, the alleged violence is neither likely nor in any way imminent.”
The youth league statement goes on to accuse political parties and civil society organisations of inciting violence by calling for mass demonstrations and making “irresponsible statements” in public about Zuma, instead of trying to impeach him.
“The opposition parties have tried and their attempts have failed. As a last ditch [attempt], we now see a trend by some in the country to attempt to, indirectly so, remove the president of the Republic of South Africa through the courts or by inciting violence and instability in the country through mass demonstrations and irresponsible statements in the media,” it said.
“The conduct of most in the country in calling for the removal of the president of the Republic of South Africa in this manner is tantamount to ‘an attempted pseudo coup’.”